Ablyazova intends to prove that Mukhtar Ablyazov's wife and kid were kidnapped, not deported

25 september 2013, 22:09
Ablyazova intends to prove that Mukhtar Ablyazov's wife and kid were kidnapped, not deported - Mukhtar Ablyazov. Photo by Yaroslav Radlovskiy©
Mukhtar Ablyazov. Photo by Yaroslav Radlovskiy©
Since Mukhtar Ablyazov, the Kazakhstan fugitive banker charged with embezzling $6 billion from a bank, has been arrested by French police and denied bail by a French court, his elder daughter Madina Ablyazova has taken over the family's legal issues. Regardless of the Interpol warrants, arrests by Italian police and French special forces, rulings of London's High Court, French court and several Ukrainian, Russian and Kazakh courts, she is still set to prove that all the world is wrong about her multibillionaire father and that the Ablyazovs family's global misfortunes have nothing to do with her father's business dealings.

According to the Financial Times, she plans to file a criminal complaint against three Kazakhstan diplomats. But the names of the Kazakhstan diplomats have not been unveiled.

Astolfo di Amato, the Ablyazovs family lawyer, will be representing Madina Ablyazova and her complaint in court. With this complaint she hopes to strip the three Kazakhstan diplomats of their diplomatic immunity and prove with “damning evidence that the three diplomats played crucial and active roles” in what her lawyer called “the aggravated kidnapping”. If convicted, the envoys might be jailed for 15 years in Italy, according to Financial Times.

Here is how the “kidnapping” happened: on May 29 Italian police broke into a house in hopes to arrest Mukhtar Ablyazov, a citizen of Kazakhstan who was put on the international wanted list by several counties for an array of financial crimes. He was not there but the police found his wife and daughter, Alma Shalabayeva and Alua, who are also citizens of Kazakhstan. None of the two were on the international wanted list, but since they failed to produce any IDs that looked solid enough to the European policemen, they were arrested and deported to Kazakhstan for illegal stay at the territory of Italy under fake passports.

Shalabayeva later filed an 18-page declaration that was distributed by her lawyers to all the prominent Western media outlets, where she confirmed that they were brought to the police quarters in Rome early in the morning of May 29. After spending two days in a detention center for illegal immigrants they were deported to Kazakhstan on the official grounds of possessing fake Central African Republic passports.

Shalabayeva carried a Central African Republic passport under the name of Alma Ayan.

Two days later in the hearing on May 31 Riccardo Olivio produced proof that his clients had genuine Central African Republic passports and insisted that the Italian made a mistake not to recognize them. He denied that Shalabaeva and her daughter had any forged documents and said that they were carrying valid Kazakhstan passports and EU residency permits issued by Latvia.

Judging from the Italian police reports however, the two chose not to produce their valid Kazakhstan IDs or their Latvian permits, and the Italian police had no knowledge they had any of those. Probably they did it to avoid a 'misunderstanding', as Kazakhstan's legislation does not support duel citizenship. This means that Shalabaeva could have either a valid Kazakhstan passport or a valid Central African Republic passport, but not both of them at the same time.

Italy Insight published a copy of Shalabaeva’s valid Kazakhstan passport with her photo here. Later it removed the copy and added the ridiculous statement about kangaroo court. (Praise the European justice! It is indeed the human rights and professional model for Kazakhstan to follow.) The copy certified that she indeed possesses a Kazakh passport. However, the African embassy's testimony became the ground for the Italian government’s decision to revoke the deportation ruling. A copy of the Kazakhstan passport is available here. A copy of the Central African Passport is available here.

Even though the proof of the authenticity of the passports was presented only days after the deportation, it took the Italian Interior Ministry 1.5 months and lot of pressure from international rights organizations to reversed its decision to extradite Alma Shalabayeva and her daughter to Kazakhstan and even allow them to come back to Italy.

The delayed change of the official mind came with a row around the Italian Interior Minister and Vice PM Angelino Alfano for a background. Opposition MPs have discovered that masking Ablyazov for a political refugee and using his wife’s deportation as a human rights bomb against Alfano could be a way to undermine Alfano and make him resign. But the plot worked only partly: Alfano stayed and his chief of staff Giuseppe Procaccini resigned.

According Corriere della Sera Giuseppe Procaccini allegedly met with Kazakhstan Ambassador to Italy Adrian Yelemessov to discuss Ablyazov's case on May 28 before the Italian police raided the villa in search of Ablyazov only to find Ablyazov got and his wife and daughter left behind.

Since the Italian media brings up the name of this Kazakhstan ambassador around the Shalabayeva arrest, he is most likely one of the three Kazakhstan diplomats whom Ablyazov's daughter is planning to accuse and strip in her new criminal complaint. But it remains to be guessed who are the other two Kazakhstan diplomats in her complaint and why Giuseppe Procaccini (if he indeed met Yelemessov that day and if he is indeed the one responsible for the arrest of Alma Shalabayeva by the Italian police) is not among those accused by Madina Ablyazova.

Alfano denied knowing about the police operation and survived a parliamentary vote of no-confidence in July that risked splitting Italy’s coalition government, Financial Times writes.

Kazakhstan Ambassador to Italy Andrian Yelemessov also denied playing any role in the arrest and explained that Kazakhstan was seeking the arrest and deport Mukhtar Ablyazov, Financial Times writes.

The Ambassador said that Kazakhstan government did not apply any pressure on the Italian Minister for deportation of Alma Shalabayeva and her daughter, Kursiv writes citing Reuters.

Answering the question of Italian newspaper Il Giomale on Kazakhstan government’s implication in deportation and pressuring Italian authorities, Yelemessov said: “There was no pressure and I never met Alfano personally.”

The Ambassador added that the only thing he did was to pass Interpol documents on the wanted persons to Italian Interior Ministry.

If what Madina Ablyazova is claiming in her criminal complaint is true, then some three Kazakhstan officials have influenced the entire Interior Ministry of Italy, orchestrated a special operation of the Italian police and then manipulated the Italian court into issuing the deportation order. Are any of these three things even possible for the “Make Benefit Glorious Nation of Kazakhstan”?

It remains to be seen what “damning evidence” Madina Ablyazova is going to produce to the court to prove what every official both in Kazakhstan and Italy is now denying.

At least for the time being no one saying that French police that arrested Ablyazov is on Kazakhstan’s payroll.

Mukhtar Ablyazov was arrested on July 31 in the south of France . The French police expected heavy armed resistance so they had to penetrate it disguised as gardeners. The banker did not resist the arrest, but tried to mislead the police, insisting that there was a mistake and his name was not Mukhtar Ablyazov. “He did not want to admit that it was him and insisted there was a mistake. However, there were no doubts thanks to the available photographs,” the police officer said. He also possessed a similar Central African Republic passport.

As it turns out Mukhtar Ablyazov who fled Kazakhstan to avoid justice has at least 4 passports that the global media is aware of: one from Kazakhstan (he was born with it), two from Kyrgyzstan (registered to two different names, but with his photos) and one from the Central African Republic. The two Kyrgyz passports have been officially reported to be fakes.

Besides, in June 2013 Atyrau court issued rulings on 7 persons involved in forgery of passports for Mukhtar Ablyazov’s relatives in Kazakhstan. Three of the convicts were sentenced to 2 to 9 years in jail.

Shalabayeva is also involved in this case but only as a witness as she neither made the forgery nor ordered it.

She is currently under recognizance not to leave Almaty. Kazakhstan authorities said that Shalabayeva may be allowed to return to Italy if she files a request. There are no reports on whether she has already filed one.

Shalabayeva and her daughter were recently visited by five deputies of the Italian parliament from the Five Star Movement in her lavish villa in Almaty.

With the international interest to the cases of Ablyazov and his family and the controversy around whether Ablyazov was first charged with embezzlement or became an opposition figure in Kazakhstan, European countries have been gradually changing their attitude over the years. Ablyazov was granted asylum in the United Kingdom in 2011, but repaid it with the contempt of London's High Court. The court barred his lawyers from making oral submissions because of their client’s numerous obstructions of justice and sentenced Ablyazov to 22 months in jail for contempt of court for lying about his assets and violating the court's freezing order issued in 2009. Later the court deprived Ablyazov of the right to defend in court.

BTA bank is pursuing Mr Ablyazov in London’s court for misappropriation of at least $6bn from the bank. FT called this case "one of the biggest and most complex fraud cases in banking history".

The French court that heard the case after he was arrested decided to leave Mukhtar Ablyazov in custody until the decision on his extradition is made . The judges ruled that Mukhtar Ablyazov could not provide enough guarantees to be released on bail pending the decision on his extradition and that he would flee as soon as released bail or not.

September 26 the court will once again review the motion on release of Ablyazov submitted by his lawyer Bruno Rebstock, RIA Novosti reports citing the French media. “We are quite optimistic,” the lawyer said. It also turned out that the review of the Ukrainian extradition request was postponed until December 5, as Ukraine submitted the documents in the French and Ukrainian languages neither of which Ablyazov speaks. France is currently waiting for a translation of the documents into Russian.

Meanwhile, the French court is not planning to decide on the possible extradition of Mukhtar Ablyazov any earlier than in spring 2014.

Ukraine, Russia and Kazakhstan have filed extradition requests with the French authorities asking for Ablyazov’s extradition.

Governor of Kazakhstan National Bank Gregory Marchenko recently commented on Kazakhstan’s desired to get Ablyazov extradited by saying that it is best that the ex-chairman of Kazakhstan’s BTA bank Mukhtar Ablyazov is tried in Britain or France . “The official position of our law enforcement officials is that he should be extradited to Kazakhstan. Their position is understandable; they are responsible for their part of the work. But it would be very hard to prove to the international community that his trial will be fair if he is extradited to Kazakhstan,” Marchenko said.

“However hard our judges and prosecutors try, however transparent all the processes are made, everyone will still be saying that the verdict is not fair. Even though he is not a political figure.

“It would be best that he is tried in Britain or France, but tried fairly and given the term he deserves, and that the country he is tried in makes sure that he serves the term he is given. In this case no one will be claiming that something was done incorrectly, or the trial was unfair or any authorities were exceeded,” he said.

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